Weekend At The Bach Ch. 2bySalteena©
"Well, here it is!"
Naomi's voice broke the conversational drought that had resumed as soon as they got under way again. About fifteen minutes earlier, she had turned onto a narrow twisty road. They turned a corner while going over a slight rise and suddenly, there below, was the sea. The bay was not very big, maybe a kilometre from point to point, fringed with golden sand, and with a few weatherboard, mainly single story houses with corrugated iron roofs scattered amongst the grass just back from the strand. A small marae stood nestled beneath the hill.
"Our bach is just around the far point. See over there where that stand of Pohutukawa is? That's us." Naomi continued, "We have riparian rights on a tiny beach all to ourselves."
"Ooooo, Naomi! This is so beautiful!" Sherri sighed, "I wish I could live in a place like this forever!"
"Wait until you find out there's no piped water and, of course, there is the outside dunny! And the nearest supermarket is back in Kerikeri, and the bank, hairdresser, shoe shops, clothes, hardware, etc, etc. And Kerikeri isn't exactly the Manukau City Centre or Botany Downs, as you saw!"
Somewhat sobered by the though of the outdoors toilet, Sherri decided to reserve any further comments for when she finally saw Naomi's bach. Her trepidation increased as they drove slowly along the narrow track between the settlement and the beach, when she saw that many of the houses were in an advanced state of disrepair, even if people were living in them.
Naomi saw Sherri looking and muttered, "No work up here at all. Families have lived on the dole for years and they choose to spend their money on wacky baccy and alcohol instead of the necessities of life like a good roof over their heads. The saddest thing is that every so often there is a fire, because they light their houses with candles instead of paying their power bills, and somebody dies…usually it's one or more of the kids."
"Why doesn't the Government do something about it?" Sherri asked.
Naomi snorted explosively, "They could put a billion dollars into this lot and nothing would change! Don't get me wrong, these are my people, my hapu, and a lot of them suffer great hardships. But there is a thousand dollars a week in dole money going into lots of these houses and still they do nothing. Some of them even call me an 'Uncle Tom' for studying to become a 'Pakeha doctor'!"
Naomi's little old house was weathered a silver grey. But the roof looked as if it had been painted in the last year or two and it was clear that rotten weatherboards had been replaced fairly recently with new ones. "Henare and I had a good session up here last year," Naomi explained. There was a nice wide veranda looking over the private beach and the sea, and off to one side was a tall narrow tin shed the Sherri took to be 'the outside dunny'. The windows were all shuttered and heavily padlocked, as was the front door leading onto the veranda.
"C'mon," Naomi grinned, "let's see what the thieving Maori have done to the place!"
The two women walked around the outside, examining all the windows and the side door leading to the dunny for damage. There was none. The dunny itself hadn't been touched. There was quite a large, sheltered flat section at the back of the house with a huge round concrete water tank in one corner and Sherri asked what the area was used for.
"Well, that's our water supply…rainwater from the roof," Naomi indicated the tank, "We've never run out yet, even when there's forty or fifty people here! When there's a big family Hui, everybody has to sleep out here in tents…a few of them bring caravans though." She waved over beyond the dunny, "There's a couple of long drops over there as well, covered over now of course, and we rig canvas screens around those. And right over the back there is an offal hole…but we don't usually have a lot of cause to use that. And over here," she pointed in the opposite direction, "Is the wood shed, and the hangi pit and barbecue area."
They returned to the front of the house where Naomi hauled a big bunch of keys out of the glove compartment in the car dash. After she unlocked the padlocks on the door, she took hold of Sherri's hand murmuring shyly, "Welcome to my whare!" and led her inside.
The inside of the house was warm, dry, and not even a little bit musty. At first glance, it appeared to be just one room, except for a small cubicle in one corner where Naomi and Henare had installed a water tank and a shower. But then Sherri noticed another heavily barred and padlocked door.
"Store room," Naomi commented, "There's a gas fridge/freezer and other stuff in there that we don't need for just one night's stay. The main power switch is in there too, but we won't bother."
At one side of the room, there was a massive wood burner stove and a kitchen unit with a sink. There a few old, but clean armchairs scattered around, plus a small wooden dining table with four chairs. And over against the opposite wall to the stove, by the side door that led out to the toilet, was a large old-fashioned double bed. Sherri's stomach churned and her knees felt weak when she realised that she and Naomi would be sharing that bed tonight, unless one of them rigged up something else with the armchairs.
"Well, what do you think?" Naomi asked.
"It…it's very nice, "Sherri stuttered. She couldn't tear her eyes away from the bed. She had never shared one with another woman before!
"Are you sure you like it?"
Sherri's thoughts raced: And Naomi and Henare have probably had sex in this bed! "Oh…oh yes, it's really lovely…shall we bring our things in?"
Naomi hugged her arm and Sherri felt her face redden at the feel of the woman's breasts pressing against her elbow.
They brought their gear in from the car, took the shutters down from the veranda windows and made up the bed. Naomi had lit the stove and just finished showing Sherri how to operate the damper and where to feed in fresh wood.
"Keep the fire going is the only house rule! Especially for the first person up in the morning, or nobody gets a cup of tea, or a hot shower!
"C'mon, let's go for a walk on the beach. If I don't keep moving, I'll fall over!"
"You really look totalled," Sherri observed.
"I am knackered! The hospital called me back almost as soon as I got home yesterday afternoon. But at ten o'clock, I told them to get stuffed! I wasn't going to let them spoil this weekend with you. Sorry if I didn't talk a lot on the way up, I had to concentrate on my driving."
"Oh, that's Ok. Look, why don't you get your head down for a couple of hours now? I can amuse myself."
"Maybe later, after I have shown you around."
They strolled hand in hand along the main beach. At first, Sherri felt self conscious at the intimacy, but this soon dissipated as Naomi told her about the history of the place and its people. As Naomi predicted, the early spring wind coming off the sea was quite keen and Sherri had to put on her fleecy top, although the sea itself was relatively calm and only rolled gently onto the sand. Also, the sand was still too cold for bare feet, so they kept their sneakers on.
When they started out, there wasn't another person in sight. But soon Sherri found herself meeting innumerable women, who were introduced to her by Naomi as 'my kuia' or 'my whaea ke'. And each greeting demanded a hongi and a long explanation of who Sherri was and what Naomi was up to in the Pakeha world. They saw several men up at the houses, but, with the exception of two ancient kaumatua who came to say 'hello', they all kept their distance.
At one stage, when they had a moment alone, Sherri joked that so far she had met six of Naomi's 'grandmothers'. Naomi gently informed her that, "It is still the Maori way in rural areas like this. When I was young, I often stayed for long periods with the other families in the hapu. It is a way of strengthening bonds in the tribe. Not one of those old ladies you met is a blood grandmother, but they are still my kuia."
They collected shells and dodged the occasional rogue wave. With a squeak of delight, Naomi spotted a cowrie shell at the edge of the surf and got wet shoes when retrieving it. She held it up before Sherri's eyes end on end. To Sherri, it looked just like a female vulva. And when Naomi brought it to her nose, Sherri understood the unspoken message; 'This is your smell, and mine.'
The signals she was getting from Naomi were so confusing, but Sherri was too nervous to ask for an explanation. The turmoil in her mind said, 'Here is this lovely, accomplished woman who is popular with men and has lots of boyfriends, and who has a gorgeous hunk as a long-time lover, yet at times she acts as if she is courting me! Can Naomi possibly be bi-sexual?' And at the same time, Sherri was nonplussed by her own reactions. She would have expected to be repulsed by such an idea, but she found herself warmed by it, and even more, she found herself seeking out the attention Naomi was giving her!
The two young women sat on rocks on the point at the end of the bay and ate the filled rolls from Kerikeri. The sea was rougher here and the waves crashed and splashed at their feet. All the meeting and greeting had taken up a lot of time. It was now mid-afternoon and they were both famished. In around chewing mouthfuls, Naomi said, "I was going to rely on kai moana for our tea, but I wasn't sure how you are with mussels and oysters and other shellfish."
"Oh, I'd have been Ok…mum and dad bring seafood home all the time from the supermarket."
"Wow! That's a surprise!"
"Well, so many of you Pakeha sheilas go green at the thought…"
"So, I'm not your average 'Paheka sheila'…"
"That you are not, my love. That you are not… C'mon, let's get back. There's firewood to bring in, showers to have and kai to prepare. And I think an early night in bed will do us both a power of good."
Sherri's stomach flipped at the mention of 'bed'.
Naomi's treat for dinner was a whole cooked crayfish, purchased from Seamart late the previous afternoon for her by Henare, and kept on ice since. Served half-each along with the salads and a bottle of New Zealand Cloudy Bay Sauvignon Blanc that had been chilled on the same ice as the crayfish, it was a feast beyond measure. Warmed by the food and delicious wine, Sherri gazed across the candle-lit table into the dark eyes of the golden-skinned goddess sat opposite her and felt as if she was teetering on the edge of an abyss.
Naomi reached and took hold of Sherri's hand. Rubbing her thumb softly across her knuckles, she murmured, "I'm so pleased you are with me today. If I had come up by myself, I'd already be itching to get back to Auckland. But now it seems like Auckland is on another planet. Thank you!"
Sherri felt the heat rising in her cheeks, "No, it should be me thanking you. I never realised how much I needed to get away from everything for a while." A flash of guilt shot through her, but she still said, "I needed to put some distance between me and Steve."
Naomi squeezed her hand encouragingly, "Tell me about Steve."
So, Sherri told the goddess all about how she and Steve met and what they did together, leaving out the sex bits of course, and how both of their families expected that she and Steve would get married and start a family.
"He's got a lot of rough edges, but he's a good guy at heart. And he makes me laugh."
"And, do you expect to marry Steve?"
"It sometimes feels as though the deal is done."
Naomi reached and nipped out the candle flame between her forefinger and thumb. The room remained dimly lit by the two battery-driven neon camp lights that Naomi had rigged up, shielded by strips of old panty-hose to cut the glare. "Come on," she said softly, "Let's clear this mess up. Pour the last of the wine and we'll take a short walk on our beach; it's lovely in the moonlight. You will see a billion stars that you will never see in Auckland. And we can leave the crayfish remains on the sand for the seagulls' breakfast in the morning."
It was still cool, but the wind had dropped, so, paradoxically it seemed warmer than it had been during the day. The moon, although high, was a mere toenail that provided no light at all. Sherri had never seen a sky as black before and one so amazingly studded with sparkling bright diamonds. It seemed natural that the two should put their arms around each other and lean their heads close as they gazed at the spectacular display.
Naomi pointed out major features, giving them their Maori names,
"Te Ika a Maui…The Milky Way,
"Te Tira o Puanga…Orion's Belt,
"Taki o Autahi…Southern Cross,
And Sherri told her that, according to her old grandfather, when you see a brand new moon like the one above for the first time, you should turn the coins in your pocket over while you bow seven times and then make a wish, and the wish will come true.
"Damn! I've got no money! Is it Ok just to bow?"
"Me either, but we could try!"
Aware that anybody watching would think them utterly ridiculous and completely mad, they both suppressed their giggles and bowed to the moon.
'Well, what did you wish for?" Naomi asked. Her eyes shone as brightly as the stars strewn across the sky above them.
"You are not allowed to tell anyone, or it won't work," Sherri told her, "but, I wished for the nicest thing possible."
With arms back around each other, they made their way back to the bach. When they reached the veranda, Sheri handed her empty wineglass to Naomi, saying that she had to pay a visit to the loo or she'd bust. "It's Ok, I don't need a torch. The starlight is bright enough for me to see my way."
On her return, she found that Naomi had turned off one of the lamps and moved the other one close to side of the bed. She had also turned down the corners of their duvets. Sherri's heart rate soared at the knowledge that in a very short while, she and Naomi would be sharing that bed.
Naomi smiled softly, "I have to pay a visit too…see you in a moment."
In a mad rush to get it done before Naomi returned, Sherri cleaned her teeth, stripped off her outer clothes and bra and donned her pyjamas. She made it under her duvet, pulling it up under her chin, just as Naomi came back in through the door.
"Boy! That was quick!" She laughed, seeing Sherri already in bed, "I don't think I dropped off out there!"
Feeling rather foolish, Sherri said nothing, but pretended that she was already falling asleep. But, she watched through half-closed eyes while Naomi made herself ready for the night. Her heart pounded like a drum as the Maori woman, with her back to Sherri, took off her clothes and folded them neatly until she was completely naked. Sherri found herself thinking of Naomi again as a golden goddess. She truly was beautiful, with a long slender back flaring into typically broad Polynesian hips and sturdy legs that were not at all as ugly as she intimated. And when Naomi loosed her dark hair and it cascaded down her back, past her waist, Sherri almost sobbed with wonder. It was the first time she had ever seen her with her hair free.
Naomi turned and walked unselfconsciously towards the bed. 'My God! She sleeps naked!' Sherri thought. Her pulse went into hyperdrive. She stared openly at Naomi now: at her small, pert, gently jiggling, dark-tipped breasts, at her slightly curved, smooth-skinned belly, and at the narrow strip of black hairs crowning the plump pudenda at the apex of her thighs. 'I swear she is so fine-haired down there, it looks like she doesn't have to shave!'
And when Naomi climbed into the bed without trying to hide anything, Sherri caught a brief glimpse of the dark-fringed cleft between her legs before she covered herself with her duvet.
Naomi leaned on her elbow looking down at the young blonde. "When we were out on the beach just now, I was looking at you and thinking of an old Frank Sinatra song that Henare plays sometimes – he's such a hopeless romantic. I couldn't remember how the words went, but some of them came to me while I was sitting on the toilet. Her voice was light and melodic as she sang:
'Moonlight becomes – it goes with your hair. You certainly know the right thing to wear. Moonlight becomes you – I'm thrilled at the sight. And I could get so romantic tonight…'
"I can't remember the rest of it…cheesy I know…but that's the way I feel…"
Sherri felt a rising panic as Naomi slowly lowered her face and found her with her lips. And then Sherri felt as though she was melting under their warm soft pressure.
But, this was wrong! She had never before been kissed romantically by a woman before! She was not gay! She was going to marry Steve and have babies!
The panic returned. And it redoubled when she felt her duvet being lifted and Naomi's fingers at the buttons of her pyjama top. And when she felt Naomi's hand slide across her skin and cup her breast, Sherri went rigid and sobbed "No!" She instantly regretted saying it, but it was now too late.
The two women remained frozen like statues for what seemed like an aeon. Sherri blanched, expecting the same kind of resolute invasion she experienced when she 'rejected' Steve. But instead, she only felt the pressure of Naomi's soft lips on her forehead and heard her saying, "Oh, I am so very sorry, my sweetheart! I completely misunderstood, please forgive me!"
Naomi reached behind her and turned off the lamp, then stayed close, softly stroking Sherri's hair until the younger woman fell asleep. And then she slept herself.
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